Read an Excerpt
By Denise Skelton
First Chance PublishingCopyright © 2006 Denise Skelton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJanuary 2006
"Everything is settled. I'll have one of my clerks send the final documents to your office in a few days."
"Whatever," Matt nodded quickly. "That'll be fine. Let her know that I'm going to need a little time. I have a lot of things stored in the house and I'll have them moved before the weekend. After that she'll be free to move in."
"No, that won't be necessary. She doesn't want the house."
"What ... I don't understand?"
"She says she doesn't want anything. Not the house, the condominium, or its contents. Nothing."
"I had that house built for her." Matt had told him, "She can have it."
"What can I say?" Matt's attorney, Larry Frankie, hunched his narrow shoulders, his head moving towards his body like a turtle preparing to hide in it's shell. "Everything is settled. It's all yours ... free and clear." He turned ready to walk away and then stopped, looking back at his client in disbelief. He shook his head slightly. "I don't understand you. Most men going through a divorce would give their soul to be in your position. Your ex-wife says she has hurt you enough and now that the divorce is final she wants you to find happiness. Now you can finally move on. You should be elated."
* * *
Several days later, Mathew Turner was still playing that scene in his mind, repeatedly, like a DVD player ... pause ... rewind ... play. He shookhis head. That was three days ago or was it four. He couldn't remember. He looked at the digital clock on the nightstand. The date read January 2. "Happy Fucking New Year" Matt mumbled and then sighed. He was deeply astonished at how heavy his heart felt. At how sadness and despair was able to rip him apart and make him want his first drink at 8:45 in the morning. How it made him tired, dizzy, and nauseous all at the same time. On the other hand, it could have been the half bottle of whisky he'd drank in the last two hours. He rolled over slowly, rose and sat on the edge of the bed, holding his face in his hands.
"I'm free." He said, in a raspy voice. Free to do what? For the last 10 years, his life revolved around Wendy. He reached for the bottle of Jack Daniels and the glass on the nightstand. Pouring whisky in the glass, he raised it. "To the woman who was the love of my life. You were my reason for living. You were my world. But, you ripped out my heart, and squeezed all of the life from it and watched as it dried up and blew away in the wind. To you, Wendy Kristin Turner." He said, his voice slightly slurred. He chucked bitterly. "No, I'm sorry, Wendy Kristin Warn. You don't want anything from me. Least of all my last name."
He sat the half-full glass on the nightstand, taking a large swig from the bottle. The phone rang as he bought the bottle to his lips a second time. After listening to the greeting that he and Wendy recorded on the answering machine, there was a short beep. "Hey guy, where are you?" Matt grunted at the yelling voice coming from the answering machine. "I know you are there, pick up the damn phone. Matt? Matt? Stop being a dipshit and pick up the phone."
"Shit." Matt cursed, as he snatched the phone up. "What?"
"It is about damn time," Matt's best friend, Josh Peterson yelled. "I've been calling you for almost a week!"
"Man, what the hell do you want?" Matt yelled back.
"Come on guy, you need to get off your ass and stop feeling sorry for yourself. You are not the first man who has ever gotten a divorced and you won't be the last. You've had six days to cry about it. It's time to dry up your tears, pull your head out of your ass, and get over it."
"You just don't understand ..."
"Like hell I don't. The world is not going to end because Wendy does not want your sorry ass anymore. You wanna be a wuss about it?" Matt was quiet. "Or do you wanna be a man?"
Matt let out a heavy sigh. "Yeah, that's what I thought." Josh said smugly. "Meet me at my house around five o'clock. Oh yeah, and wear something decent."
Matt let out a loud moan and then he sighed again. "All right."
* * *
The second and fourth Sunday of every month at the Porter's home was always the same. Often the meal changed, sometimes the faces, but the atmosphere would always remain the same. The aroma of barbecued ribs greeted them as they entered the small formal dining room. Gathering around the table everyone settled in, and after saying grace, they prepared to devour the meal that Debra Porter had cooked. Looking across the table, Simone Porter smiled faintly at Alan Whitaker. Her mother's newest idea of what was the best thing for her daughter. He glanced back at Simone. He was handsome with dark eyes. His clean shaven chestnut skin stretched over his high cheekbones as he offered her a bold smile. "Go on everyone, dig in." Debra ordered her voice demanding and tired at the same time. Simone knew that tone all too well. It was her mother's 'look at this magnificent feast I've painstakingly created especially for you people and you had better praise me before you even bother to put one bite in your mouth' tone that she used so often it has become apart of her personality.
"Everything looks wonderful mother," Simone whispered.
"Yes it does, doesn't it," Debra beamed, "I've really out done myself this time."
"Yes honey, you have" Simone's father Joseph added. Out of the corner of her eye, Simone saw her father pick up a large slice of cornbread, passing it to her sister René, and gesturing for her to put it on Simone's plate. René looked at her father then glanced quickly at her mother, before gingerly slipping the cornbread on the plate. "There you go baby girl," he announced.
Simone looked innocently at her father. "Thanks daddy" she said. Her voice which was barely above a whisper was fine and delicate like a hummingbird's wings fluttering in the palm of your hand.
"Joe, don't give her that." Debra scolded him. "She doesn't need to be eating any bread. It'll go right to her hips." Simone glanced uncomfortably across the table at Alan, then to her right, meeting her mother's disapproving gaze. She watched as everyone passed around the serving plates of green beans, potato salad, and cornbread. When the plates were passed to her, she scooped out a tablespoon of beans and potato salad. "Simone, I made that rib just for you." Debra said pointing to the lifeless, seemingly tasteless piece of meat on the serving plate. "I steamed it first to get rid of as much of the fat as possible, then I used a new recipe that I cut out of some magazine." She paused as if trying to remember the name of the magazine, then waved her hand dismissing the idea. Simone groaned silently. Reluctantly she speared the meat with her fork, placing it on her plate as far away from the other food, as she could manage.
"Debra let her have one of the other ribs. That one doesn't have any barbecue sauce on it ..," Joe said with concern.
"It doesn't matter, it's better for her that way ... besides, you know I don't like to waste food."
"Why don't I just take Simone's rib," René said, reaching towards Simone's plate with her fork. "And she can have mine, that way nothing will go to waste."
"René." Debra warned her voice low and stern. René looked at her mother, then at Simone sympathetically saying 'I'm sorry' with her eyes.
"Debra, leave Simone alone. Let the girl eat." Joe said, feeling embarrassed and sorry for his youngest daughter.
"Joe she's trying to lose weight. No wonder she's as big as a house with you sneaking her food all the time." Debra shot at her husband. "Now I," she said, proudly placing the tips of her fingers on her chest, "am trying to help her."
"You know Mrs. Porter everyone needs a person in their life like you," Alan said smiling at Debra. "Someone to guide them, you know, and to lead them down the right path."
"You know Alan, this is so true, and I have always been there for my family. To help them make the right decisions, even if they do not realize or appreciate it. And with Simone and her diet, I happen to be in that very predicament. Why just the other evening, Joe and I met her for dinner and ..."
Simone closed her eyes willing herself to be anywhere but in the home where she had spent the first 19 years of her life, sitting across from the man her mother hand picked for her. A man who was intelligent, successful, and very, very attractive. A man who was probably a great person, but something deep down inside whispered to Simone that he was going to be the second most annoying person she had ever met. She crowned the title of "First Most Annoying" to the woman sitting to her mother. She groaned. If God were merciful, then her latest diet would shift into high gear and she would shrivel up and fade away any minute. She opened her eyes glancing quickly around the room. Nope, it didn't work. I'm still here.
"Excuse me?" Simone said rising from the table.
"But you didn't eat your dinner. I prepared that especially for you."
"I know mother and I'm sorry. I'm just not very hungry." Simone averted her eyes from her mother's critical gaze. As she turned to leave the room, her mothers words followed her. "Like I was going to say, I could not believe that she ate two whole pieces of fried fish."
Walking into the hall Simone took her coat out of the closet and went into the living room. As she opened the patio door, she stepped out into the fidget January weather. Taking a deep breath, she allowed the cold crisp air to clear her mind. If she had known her mother had invited Alan to dinner, she would have made up some excuse not to come. She would rather have gone to the movies or to the mall. She suppressed a moan. She would have even preferred cleaning her house from top to bottom than to spend the entire afternoon with her mother when she was in her "Can someone please take our pathetic daughter off our hands, I beg you" mode.
Simone walked across the yard smiling at the sound of fresh snow crunching under her feet. Brushing off one of the lawn chairs, she sat down staring into space as she contemplated a quick exit that would bring her the least amount of ridicule from her mother. She decided it might be better just to hang out in the back yard for a while. For as long, she could remember her mother had made every attempt to change her. At the age of 7, Simone wanted to take ballet and her mother made her take piano instead. At 10, Simone wanted to play on the community co-ed football team. Debra had told her that she wasn't allowed to play with, or associate with the children at the community center, because most of them were what she liked to call street urchins. At 16, Simone wanted to join the young Democrat's club in school. Under threat of loosing her driving privileges, Simone again bowed to Debra's wishes and joined the Republican's club instead. After all, that was the place to meet unattached young men of stature and wealth. Now at the age of 28, Simone still felt she was ruled and bullied by her mother to do what she wanted. Debra never threatened. She didn't have to. She just had a way about her that made the people do exactly what she said and when she said it.
"Hey baby girl" she heard from behind her. She glanced up at her father's smiling face. "I brought you something. Follow me." She rose following her father across the yard to the garage that doubled as a workshop. Once they entered the garage, Joe crossed the room lifting a napkin on his workbench revealing a plate with a regular size portion of food on it. He reaches inside his shirt pocket pulling out a paper napkin with a fork wrapped inside of it, and held it out to Simone. She looked at the plate and back at him. "Go ahead, take it. She didn't see me bring it out." Sitting down on a stool next to the bench she reluctantly took the plate carefully placing it on her lap. Joe pulled up another stool sitting next to her. "Simone, your mother means well, really. She just goes overboard with almost everything she does."
"I know daddy and I'm trying to lose weight. It's just not that easy."
"Simone you're not overweight."
"Daddy I'm five foot three and ..."
"You still go to the gym a few times a week don't you?" She nodded. "You take good care of yourself. You're in good shape."
"But mother's the same height and she's barely 100 pounds." He shook his head as she spoke.
"You and your mother are two different people."
"No, you are different people and you are going to look and act different. And I'm glad of that." He sighed, "I love your mother dearly, but I don't think the world could handle another Debra Porter."
* * *
Matt inhaled the sweet fragrance of apples from the hair of the woman in his arms. It reminded him of Wendy. "Wendy had beautiful hair," he thought closing his eyes and deeply inhaling the intoxicating aroma. A picture of Wendy flashed in his mind and the realization hit him that this was not Wendy. He would never hold Wendy in his arms again. Cassie, the blind date that Josh had set him up with, snuggled closer, as they leaned against her car in the restaurant parking lot. Matt held her in a light embrace and loosened his hold a little more. She stroked his back slowly moving her hand along his back to his side and down to his belt. She ran her index finger along the top edge of his belt to the buckle and then traced her finger down the fly of his pants. His breathing became rugged as he slowly licked his lips.
Drawing back, she tilted her head upwards allowing her lips to brush his. "After all the things Josh has told me about you, I'm really glad we were finally able to meet," she purred, meeting Matt's gaze.
"Yeah me too." he said trying to keep his voice even.
"Maybe we could do something? Go to my place if you like?" she questioned. He removed one of his hands from her waist, raising his arm squinting at his watch.
"I have to be going; I have an early appointment tomorrow." She stepped back from his embrace, smiling at him.
"Now that was a blatant lie," she said her voice flat.
He flinched not realizing that she could see through him. "I'm sorry. It's been a rough week."
She laughed at the startled look on his face, and then said. "No, I'm the one who should be sorry. Josh told me about everything you've been going through." She looked around hesitantly, then back at him. "Do you want to talk about it?" he could tell from her demeanor that she was just being kind. She did not want to hear his problems. He briskly shook his head.
"No, not really, I just need to put it all behind me." She nodded pulling her coat tight in order to block out the cold air.
"Well I'd better be going," she said reaching in her pocket for her keys and unlocking her car door, then turned back to him. "You sure you won't reconsider. I'm told I'm very good company?" she teased.
He watched her closely. "I'll bet you are, and that sounds like a great offer, but I wouldn't be very good company right now."
She smiled broadly. "I'm good enough for the both of us."
He looked down at her, with help from a nearby streetlight, seeing the sparkle in her green eyes. "Yeah, like I said, I'll bet you are, but I think I'd better head home." He leaned forwards, letting his lips brush hers. "Night." he whispered, reaching around her for the car door and opening it. She slid in and rolled the window down, after he closed the door.
"Why don't you give me a call on Monday? We can get together next week. I could make dinner. I make a mean lasagna."
He smiled down at her. "Sure, sounds good. I'll call you. Drive safe." stepping back from her car he watched her back out of the parking space and pull from the restaurant parking lot. "Nope ... not Wendy." He whispered before he walked to his car.
* * *
"I've been waiting months for this." Jamison Cartwright said watching the tall figure walk across the parking lot and get into his car. "That son of a bitch has been a thorn in my side for more than a year."
"I told you to let me take care of him," his companion said, stretching his legs trying to get comfortable inside the cramped Porche. "I could have just as easily walked up behind him and put one in the back of his head." Reaching over pointing his index finger at his friend's head like a gun. "Pop. It's that simple."
"It wasn't the right time. Wendy would have been more upset if he was killed. She would have been pining away for him and I couldn't let that happen. And I definitely don't want to take the chance of having the cops trace it back to us."
"Why are you worried about the cops? Those stupid bastards couldn't find their asses with both hands. How are they going to find out who popped some loser? You need to stop being such a pussy."
Jamison looked over to meet the eyes of his friend Adrian Hirsch. Adrian's steel gray eyes met his. Jamison suppressed a shudder before he turned away seeing the car that they had been watching for the last hour and a half pull out of the restaurant parking lot. Starting the car and putting it into drive he said, "Show time."
Excerpted from My Angel by Denise Skelton Copyright © 2006 by Denise Skelton . Excerpted by permission.
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